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Dead Comic Standing by Karen Vaughan

Forced to endure someone who uses your personal foibles as fodder for a comedian’s act can take its toll on your psyche, especially when that comic is your ex-girlfriend. Hank Cavanaugh has had enough. Only, what can he do? At the threshold of his endurance, Hank swears the comedians in town better stand up and take notice when he starts slashing his way through the comedy clubs.

 

EXCERPT

 

Prologue     Present Day 2008

He slammed his glass down on the bar.

The barkeep filled the glass and passed it to the dude.

“Good show” the bartender said, nodding to the comic on stage.

“He’s okay, but I’ve seen much better,” the stranger replied.

“You know comedy?”

“I was comedy, years ago. Then I started my own club, hosted the best up-and-comers.  I guided Carey, and Myers, on their way up. I was the Simon Cowell of the comedy world. I discovered more new talent than Cowell can shake his finger at.”

“So what happened?”

“I lost it, son. I lost my faith in humor. Too many bad things happened to accept that laughter can pull you through the worst. Sometimes it can be a curse.”

The stranger looked up at the comic who was finishing his routine, before turning back to the bartender. “That kid probably does have talent. He could be destined for Last Comic Standing. The problem is I am just too jaded to see it.”

“So what actually made you lose your vision?”

The man took a sip of Scotch, and said, “My wife died of cancer—a quick death.  We didn’t see it coming.You’d think that would be enough for a guy to have to deal with…But then five years ago, some asshole lost his sense of humor, and all hell broke loose.”

Summer 2003

Chapter 1     Back in the Day

An up-and-coming comic was just exiting The Laff Attak. The comedian usually left through the alley after his sets, usually two per night, 30 minutes per set. Like other wannabes, he worked two clubs per week whilst working part time at an upscale Coffee Emporium. This guy didn’t want to spend the rest of his career as a part-time Barista /Comic. Oh no, this dude had plans, he was going to be the Robin Williams for the next generation. Well, skip the ‘Na-noo-Na-noo’ bullshit that Robin had to tout, in his early years.

In the meantime, bills had to be paid and the comic had a wife to support as well.  Debbie worked as an insurance adjuster for a huge HMO management company. She technically supported him and his “hobby.”  At least it was a marginally paying hobby.

The young man walked around the corner down another alley, a supposed short cut on his way home. He feared nothing, although he would never have let Deb do this, day or night. Her argument was why should he? Did he think he was “Iron man” or something? The young dude lit up another smoke, a filthy habit and Deb hated it. Another reason she thought he might die young. She just didn’t get the part about a good smoke, after coming off stage. Comics had to be the worst chronic smokers. He had to do it here because once he stepped into the house, no more ciggies. He might as well smoke now ‘cause Deb wouldn’t let him smoke after sex. Smoking brought him back from the adrenaline high of being ‘on.’  No matter what shit hit you throughout your day, you hit the stage running with a smile, ready to show the crowd the time of their miserable lives. He stood in the shadows taking a few pulls on the Camel, dropped it and ground it into the asphalt with the other discarded cigarette butts. Debbie, as much as he loved her, had her phobias. She was convinced that some guy would jump out of the shadows and knife him to death, when, in reality, the worst killers came wrapped in cellophane and cardboard.

The next step he took into the alley was his last. A hand holding butcher knife came out of nowhere.  If this weren’t the end for real, he would have found a place in his act for the scenario. He felt the knife blade plunge into his stomach, and he went down on his knees, and then fell onto his back.

“Fuck man, if you want my wallet, just ask.” Dave was gasping for air.

“It’s not about the money, asshole.  I just didn’t know how else to tell you……”

“What?” Dave croaked weakly.

The stranger grabbed the hilt of the knife, and yanked it out of his victim’s gut.

He looked straight at him and said,

“YOU JUST AIN’T FUNNY!”

Then the killer slit the young man’s throat.

©   Karen Vaughan 2008

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Karen Vaughan is also the author of the novel Dead on Arrival. She lives in Peterborough, Ontario, with her husband, Jim, and their two cats. Her hobbies include crafting and, of course, enjoying the humor of stand-up comics.

AVAILABLE IN KINDLE AND PAPERBACK.

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Running with Chaos by Elicia Clegg

Elicia Clegg’s suspenseful novel “Running with Chaos delivers an unsettling rendition of a pivotal moment when three characters stand at the crossroads of destiny and freewill.The following excerpt features one of the three main characters. Sam is at a crossroads of epic ramifications. She has been warned. She either allows eight-year-old Raven Clayton to die, or allows for a stranger to take her place. As you will read, Sam will go against everything she has been taught to break the chain fate has already forged. 

. . . . .

Sam stood outside of Animus’s house for nearly five hours. She warned her several times of the ramification of what was to happen, yet Sam’s mind was made up.  Sam finally started walking toward the elementary school, wishing it would hail in order for the Earth to suffer as she now did. Each step she took brought her further and further from her circle of friends. She felt trapped in this new reality, no longer rational, running off pure emotion. Something wasn’t right, but this didn’t matter. She loved Raven, she couldn’t explain why, but when she heard her laugh it was the first time she had felt alive. She liked this sensation. To her, killing him equated saving her. Even if time had to stop, she would complete this.

The night air was not cold, yet it chilled her all the same. Unaware of what her heart demanded, Sam walked on with raw intent. She paused as she reached the school. Time had frozen and somehow shifted backwards.  She didn’t know how, but her group and Erin were suspended during this shift. She half surmised they were all shifted to another dimension, but this, this could not be, so her mind accepted time was bent, and a handful of people were the only ones to know.

A life for a life.

The words Animus had said; her intent not an evil one, although the outcome would remain the same. They could not create a paradox. A child was killed. It changed the community, and it changed the life of the murderer. Too many had been touched; another child would have to take Raven’s place. his was equality, this was Sam’s job.

“This is not right, it couldn’t be right.”

“You are not the judge of right or wrong,” Animus’s words stung and endured in her mind.

“Then who is?”

She stepped on the same curb she would be stepping on in approximately eleven hours. She would shield herself from the pain, walk away, and let an unknown person take Raven’s place. The morning wind picked up; the smell of death swirled all around. She had to close her eyes. Concentration built in her mind; she could see and feel everything as though time did not exist. And then she heard the new mother’s tears mixed with the fathers; their shallow breathing, a pain so agonizingly real that even now Sam could feel it.

No, no, no. Her mind screamed. She clutched at her chest. She couldn’t do this; something had forever changed inside of her. She could no longer live like this, she was no longer levelheaded, and no longer did she understand the delicate balance she herself had pledged to keep.

She waited, catching his murderous scent. The vengeance which had seared through her soul the day she killed Chuck now boiled up again, frothing and foaming out, covering her with the hatred of wickedness. She was the hunter and her prey’s disgusting lust lingered in the air making his location easy to find. She walked quickly, never hesitated as she navigated down the streets. At first walking until he was closer and then she ran. Her speed that of a trained sprinter. He was so near, she wanted to weep from the strong emotions flowing in and out of her.

“You are not the judge of right or wrong,” Animus’s words stung again. 

“I am this morning!”  Sam yelled into the vast emptiness of the morning hour as though someone, anyone could hear.

Her body stopped. She didn’t need to catch her breath, just take hold of her wild thoughts and keep them in check. She felt him, her body turning toward a small house. The trim was neat, painted yellow, baiting salesmen to come. The front door was red, commanding power. Even if he lacked it, he would not let the world know he was nothing more than a poltroon. The yard, green and cut to an enviable length, dawned tiny yellow flowers, most appropriate for a man who envied all those around him. 

She wanted to vomit, perfection, order, no chaos, just order. She could not put the scale in check, for inside, in his mind, chaos ran free, equality, order, utter disorder… she could not go against her nature, against her job, but then again, she hadn’t been feeling like herself lately, and she felt, maybe she could twist herself inside enough to change everything. Her dramatic mood of disgust was conspicuous to her, clearing out her mind, clearing out the ability to follow orders blindly. She would and could do this. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Elicia Clegg, who was born in the small town of Spanish Fork, Utah, affectionately known as happy-valley, moved at age four to Ogden, Utah; a town riddled with a dark past of opium dens, brothels and businesses with underground tunnels constructed for criminals’ and prostitutes to escape police raids. Not only was Elicia’s environment surrounded in historical intrigue, her family has long whispered about a Curse as many have died in strange events. To name but a few: her grandfather was thrown off a building in New York City, her great-grandfather “fell” off the historic Radisson in Ogden, her father was shot in the head, her brother died in a work explosion, her great-uncle had a truck load of lumber crush him to death, her maternal great-grandfather was hit by car and died, a cousin who served two tours in Vietnam died on route home from his heart bursting, her maternal great-great-grandfather disappeared without a trace, and her grandmother, while volunteering, was stabbed to death at the State Mental Health Institute. 

It is no wonder she grew up with an overactive imagination and soon began to write many psychologically-thrilling suspense novels including Vexation, Castigate My Sins, and Running with Chaos.

 

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FICTION BLOG ALLIANCE

Best selling novelist VICKI HINZE created the Fiction Blog Alliance as a way to connect readers and authors through their blogs. Many of the topics explored in these blogs qualify for our “crossroads” criteria for they cover everything from writing to history, to surgery, to politics, to war, religion and romance. There is no subject that escapes our criteria for the crossroads of humanity. Everything depends on the eye of the beholder, whether from our characters’ points of view or from our own, and ultimately how we act stems from what we believe.

 

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